With their fossil record existence dating back at least 30 million years, Brown Pelicans are strong and resilient animals. For proof, look no further than to the story of “Pink.”
As you may have read, our Los Angeles center received an adult California Brown Pelican, now nicknamed Pink, in mid-April with a severe pouch laceration consistent with a human-caused injury. A $20,000 reward remains on the table for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this illegal act (tips can be given to U.S. Fish & Wildlife at 310-238-1416).
Brown Pelicans depend on their throat pouches to catch fish. But those spectacular plunge-diving displays were impossible for Pink, who came to us cold, anemic, extremely thin and too weak to fly. Temporary surgical skin staples were placed to hold the pouch together so that Pink could eat.
After a week in the care of our wildlife rehabilitation team, Pink gained enough strength to withstand the lengthy surgeries needed to repair this wound.
Assisted by center staff, International Bird Rescue staff veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr performed two surgeries on Pink, each lasting three hours and requiring hundreds of sutures.
Which brings us to the good news: The sutures have been removed, and we’re pleased to report that both sides of the pouch are healing remarkably well, and no further surgery is needed.
“Barring complications,” Dr. Duerr notes, “I’d like the bird to stay happily eating in the aviary for a little while longer in order for the newly repaired skin to mature and strengthen before it has to hit the ocean at high speed in a plunge dive. So far, so good.”